Screened Out – Disney’s Moana

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Jermaine Clemente, Nicole Scherzinger

Pacific Islander folklore meets Broadway-style tunes and 3D computer animation – could it possibly work? Yes, it can!

Disney does what they do best, breaking ground and making merchandise. But this time, a plucky heroine and a goofy demigod challenge the typical template. And then great vocal talent, snappy tunes, and scene after scene of absolutely breathtaking scenery bring Moana to life.

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Screened Out – The Secret Life of Pets

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Louis CK, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jennie Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks

Pet lovers are often animation lovers, too, I know, looking to our animals for wildly, colorful entertainment – like living cartoons. We search online for videos of puppies who act like goofballs or kittens who don’t quite make the jump. The Secret Life of Pets taps into that great slapstick so many of us love.

It is a good thing the characters – as shallow as they are – and the shtick liven things up. The story in Pets is really a retelling of the first Toy Story, where the established dog/toy gets displaced by the new dog/toy. A rivalry ensues that takes both of these enemies far outside, far from their comfort zones, and then they must band together to survive the cruel out-of-doors and find their ways back home.

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Some excellent summer reading choices for your hearts and minds

By : Watermark Staff
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You know the drill. It’s incredibly humid and everything is sticking to your hair. Your sweat rings are now a sign of empowerment and not a reason for embarrassment. You’ve got this. This is Florida, the place you go to in order to remove your shirt anyway, but for reasons of distraction – even enlightenment, despite the sun – it’s also a chance to let your eyes wander across pages. To that end, we present a not-at-all comprehensive review of lit-bits that we’ve been handling; some with local ties, some not. Now put on your tanning butter and get to riding the consonants into the vowels. Reading is learning, and learning is fun. Have a great summer!

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Disney comps LGBT youth for Gay Day at Magic Kingdom

By : Jamie Hyman
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A gaggle of red-shirt-wearing LGBT youth will converge upon the Magic Kingdom June 4, thanks to a donation of comped tickets from Disney to the Zebra Coalition.

According to Zebra executive director Heather Wilkie, 60 people are going: 45 youths and 15 chaperones.

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Idina Menzel responds to fan petition to give Frozen’s queen a girlfriend

By : Jeremy Williams
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frozen 2Twitter is not going to let it go.

When a Disney fan tweeted to the House of Mouse’s official Twitter page asking for them to give Elsa, the lead character in the Disney animated film Frozen, a female love interest in the upcoming sequel; it stirred up social media. The original message has been re-tweeted more than 2,200 times and sent the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend to Twitter’s trending list.

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Mark Badley and Jason Newkirk

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Mark Badley and Jason Newkirk

Photo by Castaldo Studio

“Mark is wonderful and will go along with all the crazy schemes and everything I come up with – and he’s always there beside me, loving me and supporting me no matter how crazy my little mind can go,” Jason says.

When Jason Newkirk, a writer and office manager for a production company, first met Mark Badley, a pharmacy buyer, he was at a loss for words, which isn’t like Jason, being a person who always has something to say.

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Radio City Music Hall attorneys send Wanzie cease and desist over “Christmas Spectacular”

By : Jamie Hyman
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When one sits in Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre and watches The Orange Blossom Trail Living Nativity Christmas Spectacular, featuring Blue Star’s naughty angel, a drag Joan Collins and three wise men pulled from the audience, usually still clutching their cocktails on stage… well. It is almost exactly being in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, watching their annual Christmas Spectacular.

Except not at all. Too bad Radio City’s attorneys don’t agree, as they’ve sent Watermark columnist and Orange Blossom Trail Living Nativity Christmas Spectacular creator Michael Wanzie a cease and desist letter. 

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The couple behind Smith & Adams is chasing their chocolate-covered dreams

By : Jamie Hyman
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Behind the glass-encased counters of Smith & Adams, a newly-opened confectionary in Colonial Plaza, the shiny, colorful gems of artisanal chocolate look more like art than candy.

The visual appeal makes sense as Kelly Smith, who handles the product side of Smith & Adams, went to art school before culinary school. Following that, she was a chef at Disney for 25 years before she and her partner, Kim Adams, decided to quit their jobs and take a risk on their own shop. Adams was previously an attorney and handles the business end of Smith & Adams.

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Screened Out – The Finest Hours

By : Stephen Miller
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Chris Evans, Casey Affleck, Holliday Grainger, Ben Foster, Eric Bana

It is considered the US Coast Guard’s most daring rescue – a “suicide mission” to save nearly 30 men. A horrible winter storm was tearing up the Massachusetts coast, and a huge oil tanker had torn in half.

Disney does the Disney thing bringing this heroic story to life, adding neat-o 1950s art direction, a swell score, great visuals, action, romance and bravado. Sure, the ship runs into a few clichés, but it’s a sight better than most January releases.

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2015 A to Z: Pop Culture Year in Review

By : Kirk Hartlage
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Last year was indeed a – forgive us – a watermark year for the LGBT community. Groundbreaking changes saw incredible advances in equality, which are reflected in the shows we watch, the products we buy and even how manufacturers sell said products to us. But despite the outpouring of rainbow-festooned support, not everyone is allowed access to the message that we gays and lesbians are still here, we’re still queer, and as far as marrying who we want, you better get used to it.

Take, for example, the child of one of those alleged “Million Moms.” The young boy or girl who just wants to play with a Barbie dolls, enjoy some colorful snack chips, or needs some type of pain or cold and flu relief. Heaven forbid if they want to multi-task their lunch with education, thanks to the alphabet-shaped noodles in their cup. No, now that the companies that make these products have demonstrated their dedication to diversity – be it in their 2015 marketing or philanthropic efforts – organizations like One Million Moms, the American Family Association and other conservative zealots have provided their right-wing parents a whole new list of businesses to avoid.

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Channing Tatum lets it go in drag and runs the world on Lip Sync Battle

By : Jeremy Williams
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Spike’s Lip Sync Battle is becoming one of the most viral shows on television today and has been the stage for many of the world’s top celebrities to explore the world of drag performing.

The idea for the show came from The Office’s John Krasinski: two celebrities battle each other with lip sync performances. It started as a recurring skit on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and was formed into a free standing show on the Spike cable channel hosted by rapper/actor LL Cool J and model Chrissy Teigen.

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Watermark Wedding Bells: Brad and Zadin Lawson

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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“Zadin is genuine,” Brad says.“He sees the best in everybody; he sees the best in every situation.”

Brad Lawson, who is a nurse at South Lake Hospital in Clermont, and Zadin Lawson, who is a clinical IT at Leesburg Regional Medical Center, met online. They texted and emailed back and forth for a while, but Brad had to go out of town to take care of some family business in a place that had no cellphone reception and no access to a computer for three weeks. He was nervous at first that Zadin thought he was just flacking out on him because he really liked him.

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